Latte Factor 2: Online shopping and Ebay addiction

Another Double-Extra-Large Latte Factor of mine is definitely Ebay. Sometimes even with shipping charges, items cost less than if you buy them locally, and the convenience of not going to the store is very alluring. I’m not a shopaholic in a normal sense. When shopping, I like to know what I’m after, buy it and get out. Buy Ebay… I can window-shop on Ebay for literally hours. Now I sometimes get very disappointed with a small selection at the mall.

It has been a double-blow financially because it takes away the valuable work time – hours! – and then I spend money on stuff that I can really do without. I’ve been addicted to online shopping, and Ebay in particular, for the past 3-4 years, and at times I felt like I needed a 12-step program. Several times I stopped looking at the site, but couldn’t avoid it for more than a couple of weeks (it’s usually better in the summer since I’m not on the computer so much).

One good thing about Ebay is their Watch List. It really gives you time to cool off. You can watch up to 100 items, but I try to hover around a 30-item mark on average. Most of the time I buy just 1-2 items from the list over a period of 2-3 weeks.

Good news, though, I’ve been slowly getting disillusioned with Ebay over the past year or so. I find that with the increased shipping cost there are a lot fewer good deals, or items advertised as new are used, or fakes, or the seller made a shipping mistake (happens a lot more often now). My “success ratio” with Ebay used to be about 80%, meaning that I was happy with 80% of my buys, and the other 20% I’d either toss or resell. Now my satisfaction is down to around 30%! And yet, I kept coming back for some more abuse… Well, no more.

A friend of mine found out that I had over 2000 Ebay feedbacks, and she was stunned. She looked around our place and said: “But there’s not even 2,000 things here! What did you buy?” I went silent, because I honestly didn’t know what to say. I probably tossed and re-sold a lot more stuff than I kept.

In the last 2 months I’ve been trying to stick to this Online Shopping Avoidance program, here are some boundaries I set for myself:

  • Cannot buy anything if I’m already waiting for 3 packages in the mail. Right now I’m waiting for ZERO parcels, sort of an accomplishment.
  • Before I buy something, I check it out at the store first. Works like a charm for most of the stuff I buy: often can get a better deal locally or the item is not what I expected and I simply cross it off the list.
  • I try to buy from sellers and online stores with good return policies now. I’d rather pay return shipping than get stuck with something that’s worth $70 or bother reselling it
  • Try to limit shoe purchases to 1 pair a month. I broke down and bought 2 pairs this month, but they’re really nice. I don’t regret it. Maybe I’ll skip the March pair.
  • I ask my husband if he likes what I want to buy, and how much he would pay for it. He often doesn’t like it or would pay a lot less for it than I would. Since I don’t like lying, I prefer to not buy instead of lying about the cost. He’s my chaperone!
  • No shopping during work days. That only leaves weekends but I don’t want to sit glued to the computer most weekends. Maybe glued to the TV instead 🙂 (joke!)
  • Do not shop online while intoxicated or sad. Oh the many things I bought after a glass of wine.

I’m not the strongest-willed person out there, so instead of talking myself out of buying a specific item, I try to not browse online shopping sites, period.

I think this is it for the vice analysis. Online shopping and coffee. I’m cutting these out.